The section of US-17 south of the Ogeechee River, off I-95 between exits 14 and 12, offers shunpikers (those who shun turnpikes) a 24-mile taste of old-style Lowland Georgia. Sometimes called the Old Atlantic Highway, it is a textbook example of how traveling the two-lane highways is superior in almost every way to hustling down the interstates. Midway along, the coincidentally named town of Midway (pop. 2,121) was founded back in 1754 by a band of New England colonists, two of whom (Lyman Hall and Button Guinett) went on to sign the Declaration of Independence as Georgia’s self-declared representatives to the Continental Congress. The centerpiece of Midway, then and now, is 200-year-old Midway Church, which preserves the original pulpit and slave gallery; visitors are allowed only with a docent from the adjacent Midway Museum (912/884-5837, Tues.-Sat., $10 adults).
South of Midway along US-17, a small sign on the east side of the highway (a mile south of I-95 exit 67) points travelers toward the “Smallest Church in America,” a 12-seat cabin that’s open 24 hours. (The original Smallest Church opened in the 1960s, burned down in 2015, and was quickly rebuilt.) Besides the kitsch value, there’s another good reason to keep an eye out for the Smallest Church: six miles east of the church, a mile from the shore down Harris Neck Road, the wonderfully named and nearly world-famous Old School Diner (912/832-2136, Wed.-Sun., cash only) serves up generous portions of fantastically flavorful seafood, barbecue ribs, chicken, and more. Only a half hour from Savannah, it’s worth a trip from just about anywhere.